All industries need to adapt, change and evolve in order to survive in the modern world. The law is no exception. I spoke with three industry leaders about paralegals, systemic change, and the evolution of contracts in light of the relationship between modern law and its future. Their predictions of what it takes for the law to survive and progress are both challenging and inspiring.
The importance of independent paralegals
There is no lack of substantive legal tasks and administrative work for modern lawyers. That is why independent paralegals are such a vital asset in the legal field and why they are a partnership worth cultivating for those in the industry. This value is essential to my conversation with Berlinda Bernard, an experienced legal assistant and owner and founder of Quintessential Pillar Paralegal Consulting, LLC.
She has seen first-hand how independent paralegals help lawyers work smarter, saving them time and money for their clients. This includes conducting legal research, in which an independent legal assistant can operate at a much lower cost than in-house employees. As the world continues to move to online offices and workspaces, virtual independent paralegals have become indispensable for the modern lawyer, hired under contract or as needed. As legal fees continue to rise and cases become more complex, independent paralegals are no longer just a luxury; they are a necessity.
Imminent system changes in the law
J. Kim Wright has been a strong supporter of systemic change in law for over two decades, with an emphasis on a set of values and models called Integrative Law. It was seen as a novelty - perhaps a little strange - when the movement began. However, as the movement became more popular, it came to be seen as a legal rebel who believed that the legal system needed such a necessary transformation. For her, the foundation of a better legal system is being built today.
In my conversation with Wright, she talks about how all the signs of previous historical collapses are obvious again. The list is both fascinating and frightening, including climate change, income inequality, social unrest, racism, sexism and a pandemic. Unfortunately, systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism and a few other dysfunctional patterns are at the heart of the legal system. It even includes the roles of victim, offender and judge (aka savior), all based on a dramatic dysfunctional triangle pattern. J. Kim talks about the way the old legal system is dying and the emergence of a new legal system that offers conscious, humanistic, holistic and flexible alternatives.
Contracts as data, not documents
Electra Japonais is the co-founder of oneNDA, the first peer-to-peer initiative led by the legal community to create a universal standardized open source NDA contract and is now also the founder and CEO of tlb. She talked to me about contracts in the legal community and about the misunderstandings that some lawyers have today. She has a passion for legal design and strongly believes in a better system than the current contract process. Her company has focused on moving to subscription-based models offered by external legal management services that are extensions of internal legal teams.
It is interesting! Electra believes that the industry should see contracts as data rather than documents and that there are issues that need to be addressed at the grassroots level of the industry. Once addressed, a more fruitful relationship will emerge between the legal community and the evolution of documents as data.
After listening to these conversations, it is impossible not to see that the world of modern law needs to adapt if it wants to keep up with the ever-changing world. Like any industry, those who are stuck in the old-fashioned way of thinking or doing may go into the past.
Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a state-of-the-art contract management company that pioneered online trading technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and has dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will become even stronger, more resilient and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, assistant professor and entrepreneur. She founded Women serve on councils advocating for women to serve on the corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. Get on board: win your ticket to a corporate leadership position and Fundamentals of Smart Contract Security. You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.